Commentary, news, analysis and reader-driven discussions focusing on this year's Stanley Cup playoffs.
Now Buffalo might not have as much to offer to a hockey tourist as New York City, as Ottawa goaltender Ray Emery correctly and helpfully noted before the Eastern Conference finals, but after the team arrives at its suburban hotel on Friday in advance of Game 5 the following afternoon, the Senators will be able to spend some quality time contemplating how they failed to put away he most prolific-scoring team in the NHL on home ice Wednesday night.
Of course, the Sabres' 3-2 win in Ottawa before an arena record crowd of 20,294 is hardly an occasion for the Senators to ponder going over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Nor is the sky falling there, a la Chicken (Wings) Little. But given the Senators' near flawless play in the series, and the giddy build-up in a city that believes its team has shed the final vestiges of a dim history as Destiny's Doormat, the result was a keen disappointment, a grand party spoiled. This is a government town, fickle and fretful much of the time, but the Senators brisk march through the playoffs -- indeed the team really had played only one bad period, the third period of Game 2 against first-round opponent Pittsburgh, through 13 games -- had been the one thing everyone could get behind. There was an air of anticipation about a Stanley Cup finals berth that brightened a gunmetal gray afternoon. The recurring theme on talk radio was that Ottawa, which never has been to the Cup finals in the modern era, was about to make history.
A national capital should know better. The battles of Vimy Ridge and Dieppe, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and the October Crisis of 1970 ... that's history.
This was hockey.
There is hardly reason to suspect Game 4 is the tipping point that can propel Buffalo to a comeback like the Boston Red Sox's -- the erstwhile St. Jude of baseball lost causes -- in 2004. Emery gave up a soft goal midway through the second period when Buffalo captain Chris Drury, in the right circle, squeezed a shot between the goalie's arm and stick, but the minor gaffe seemed inspiring rather than deflating to a team that fell behind nine seconds into the game. Ottawa, which has dominated the Sabres physically so thoroughly in the series that sometimes it seems difficult to discern when the power plays end and even-strength resumes, countered with goals by Dean McAmmond and Peter Schaefer 106 seconds apart late in the period, Schaefer cruising unmarked in the slot and taking a backhand pass from behind the net from a wheeling Mike Comrie after some sturdy forechecking.
The Sabres, outshot 33-22, gathered themselves in the third period. Barely. Ottawa had a power play in the third period -- Tony Lydman, a defenseman who normally kills penalties, was in the box when he took away a Chris Neil scoring chance in front of the net by high-sticking the Senators forward -- that seemed to last so long that goalie Ryan Miller could have celebrated two birthdays. Jason Spezza won the initial faceoff from Drury, commencing two full minutes of time in the attacking zone in which the Senators did everything but score and Miller did everything but request a blindfold and a cigarette. The puck never left the zone -- Spezza also won a second faceoff from Drury -- and the captain, Jochen Hecht, Henrik Tallinder and Brian Campbell spent the longest minutes of their life scrambling as the Senators did everything but play Sweet Georgia Brown with the puck. Near the end of the initial penalty kill, Campbell took a cross-checking penalty, giving Ottawa what amounted to a six-on-four for about 20 seconds as Emery scurried to the bench.
"We did a lot of good things on it," Senators left winger Dany Heatley said. "Moved the puck around. Popped into the slot. Worked back door. A lot of chances. We missed the net" -- Wade Redden missed a seemingly yawning net - "or Miller made a save. Sometimes the puck just won't go in."
"After that kill," Drury said, "my legs were basically gone [for the rest of the game]."
Drury had said before the match that the Sabres could assume the fetal position and head home or stiffen their spines and compete against the Senators, which Buffalo belatedly did after being present in body only for Game 3. The hanging-on-by-its-fingernails victory did Buffalo credit. But there was something about the win that seemed like a old light bulb that burns brighter for a few minutes before it goes dark. The Senators have three more chances to wrap this up, and if they continue to play with this heightened sense of purpose, not even the delightful distractions of Buffalo should get in their way.
posted by SI.com | View comments |
I liked that my team showed some grit and avoided the sweep - barely. I don't expect them to win this series (Ottawa is way too good to lose 4 straight) but at least they've made it a little interesting, bringing it home for another one Saturday. A sweep would be so deflating after the season they had.
If they were losing to a weaker team, this might be a tougher pill to swallow, but this Senators team is so good and so relentless... I think a lot of us Sabres fans have accepted the brutal truth that the Sens are the better team this year.
(But in the back of our minds, there's always that glimmer of hope for a miracle comeback... these are the Sabres, after all. :-) )
The sens need to finish this off in game 5 in Buffalo, if the loose and game 6 is back if Ottawa, everybody will start bringing up the choke jobs of the past, I might almost say that game 5 is a must win for both teams, almost.
Gimme a break. The Sabres rose to the occassion. If they win game 5 in Buffalo, the haunting demons of years of play off futility will creep back into the heads of the Sens and their fickle fans. Miller's better! Period. Sabres in 7.
They seem to be beaten even in victory. My beloved Sabres have met their match in this series. The Senators are a strong, hungry bunch who outweigh the Sabres by at least 10 lbs. on average. The likes of 160 pound Tim Connolly and Derek Roy do not help down the stretch in the playoffs. We need gritty grinders like Mike Fisher... who finish checks and play like every shift is his last of the year. We need heart and effort to compliment raw sexy talent. The fancy stuff, individual plays and dipsy-doodling does not fly in May/June hockey. The Sabres need a jolt of nastiness and some dirty smash mouth hockey to have a chance of winning. And for Pete's sake... more than 20 shots a game!!!
I say bring back some of the young big guys from Rochester and let them loose. Paille, Paetsch and Stafford have a try... the worst that can happen is the team will lose anyway. I also think Andrew Peters should get some play time... if for no other reason than to kick Chris Neal's head in -that's almost as good as a Stanley Cup.
Great season... sad way to end it.
You're right Farber, there's nothing to do in Buffalo. No point in you ever coming here again. Don't forget to tell your friends too.
Buffalo better step it up. Emery blows and they got lucky..but luck is half the battle...hopefully they play better then they did tonight and really earn a victory in Buffalo.
sabres in 7!!!
One note - the Sens have TWO opportunities (exclusively) to put the Sabres away. The third one will be a shared opportunity...
Should there be a Game Six, wonder who will be feeling a bit of heat?
I just don't understand why you apparently hate the Sabres...Is it because you're a bitter Isles or Rangers fan...Whereas I agree with the premise that Ottawa has no reason to panic...Farber, as well as, the rest of the press corps are not mentioning that this could have been the franchise's first sweep. Do the Sens need to panic? No, but 0 for the last 12 on the PP (at home) can fester and really make things interesting...
Hey Farber, nice commentary about western New York. It really isn't that bad a place, you should try visiting it sometime.
And I wouldn't go putting the Sens in the Stanley Cup just yet...the Sabres may just have something to say about that.
It was nice to win at least. Seemed like Buffalo went back to their old ways in the third. If Buffalo gets three more miracles does that make us a Saint?
LIVE THE MIRACLE!! GO SABRES!!!!
At least the brooms have been swept under the rug.....if the Sens lose on Saturday (longshot)it's ...oh oh Ottawa...
Ottawa better be panicking! The Sabers have the agility, the motivation, the determination, and the character necessary to make such a formidable comeback. Ottawa better be on their toes cuz the Sabres are gonna kick some…
Finally, the Sabres started looking like their regular season selves. Although I personally think the 2nd game should have gone their way (No Goal, Ghost Penalties), there was no excuse for the poor performances of game 1 and game 3. It was almost as if the Sabres just layed down. I enjoyed last nights game and I hope that win will give them a little more momentum going into Buffalo. A win Saturday in Buffalo making the series go 3-2 will definitely press the Sens to perform for game 6. Again I will say the Sens have a great team and if they win, I have all the respect for them because they would have beaten the Sabres fair and square but there will be nothing stopping me from shouting "lets go Buff-a-lo" on game day, with my jersey on, a beer in one hand, and hope for game 7. Don't play for the cup, fight for the cup!
Ottawa dominated that game... Buffalo just extended the inevitable. Buffalo got lucky but they won't come back. Ottawa will win the next.
dream on senators, you dont know what awaits for you in buffalo!
Give the Sens 3 more games like that, and we'll take our chances.
I don't see
a) Mez or anyone else gift-wrapping one at 9 seconds
b) Emery turning into Lalime again.
If the best the Sabres can do in two games that they should have been playing like it was their last (almost was) was the last two efforts, the next Ottawa home game will feature Hasek.
Mr. Farber - What an insightful article. A team that was up 3-0 will probably win the series. Your a genius. I can't wait to read your take when history's biggest choke artists, the Ottawa Senators, head back to Canada up 3-2 after Saturday afternoon. Ottawa will crack under the pressure just like they always have. They've faced no adversity in this year's playoffs (Down 2-0 in game 2 was not adversity when they had already won game 1 in Buffalo). The Senators true colors will shine bright and one of the biggest comebacks in sports history will be realised.
I am a diehard Sabres fan and still really have no hope for the Sabres to pull this one out. Throughout the year, the Sabres played just well enough to win on most nights. Now in the playoffs, a team, the Sens, that is hungry for everything is proving this form of play to be less than sub-par. Even when the Sabres were up 3-0, they looked like they were skating in thick mud. Nobody (maybe besides Roy and Afinigenov)is moving their legs out there. Ottawa scared the hell out of me coming into this series and still do. Luckily my roommate is a Wings fan so at least I'll have someone to root for in the finals!
Not sure which Game 3 some of these sports writers were watching. I saw a Buffalo team hit two posts, have a goal disallowed, and another puck swept off the Ottawa goal line with inches to spare. After two periods with some different bounces that game could have certainly been 4-1 Buffalo. They were unquestionably the better team in the 1st two periods. Now, that being said, Ottawa found a way to win and is going to carry the day in this series. But let's not all break our ankles trying to jump on the Ottawa bandwagon - this series could have absolutely been 2 games to 1 after Game 3 which changes it entirely.
I think the Senators start to panic if they lose game 6. This series is going to end up one of two ways:
1) Buffalo wins the next 3 and wins in 7.
2) Buffalo wins game 5, but Ottawa wins game 6 on their home ice.
I'm just hoping for a win on Saturday for the home fans, because I know what that does to Ottawa on Monday.
If there is a game on Monday, then it will be a MUST WIN game for the Sens. Can you imagine being up 3-0 and then having your very own MUST WIN game? (Who would you REALLY pick in a game 7 in Buffalo? Be honest!)
The Sens will be staring down the barrel of being the BIGGEST CHOKERS in maybe the history of all sport should they blow this. They could be staring right at that somewhere around 5PM on Saturday.
No pressure Alfie!
I would love to catch you down by HSBC arena and spend some quality time with you. I would love to show you some really nice and quiet scenic places around Western New York. I would expect more from a so called professional columnist. By the way, the W in Western New York is to be capitalized.
Hey Farber - try neutral commentary for once.
And can anyone confirm if Lindy Ruff played for the Olympic Miracle on Ice team?
5 Reasons why Ottawa might choke:
1) Emery is awful (does every shot have to have a rebound or be a goal?) He will eventually cost them this series or more probably the cup finals. Muckler should lose his job for not finding a better goalie last offseason.
2) Although Spezza is very talented, he is a wimp. Does he always have to reach for the puck with his stick when a Sabres player is closing in? Does he ever throw a check? He has the worst plus minus by far on his line. He is an expert on how to turtle if the gloves are dropped too. NO HEART!
3) Neal is pathetic. How can you use the phrase "scoring chance" and his name in the same sentence. He chases the puck around like a dog chasing a stick (Except a dog gets the stick) and he is always the last player back into his zone. The Drury hit from the regular season makes much more sense now. he doesn't deserve to be in the NHL, let alone on a talented team like Ottawa.
4) Ottawa's power play has gone dry.
5) Ryan Miller.
First the Say-bores cried all last offseason about how they got robbed when Carolina beat them....and now they are about to go out to the Senators.
I think the new 'cursed' team of the NHL will be the Sabres.
Sorry boys, but you are hockey voo-doo's poster child! Have a nice off season of whining!
Is SI really in such poor straights that they have to have 'bait' articles written to get reads? I see more commentary and class in the comments of the buffalo fans than the author of this article. Here farber, next time just say, 'I wish the isle's won, a team who is up 3-0 lost a game and doesn't have to panic. Boy Buffalo is awful, look at all those missed nets by OTT'.
No matter, I'll steer clear of SI.com if this is the level of quality you guys pump out, thanks. :)
-Another Mike in Buffalo. Go sabres!
Wow..let's write more articles about how awesome our team is when we lose more often..this is a great piece honestly.. I almost forgot who won the game!! But one thing is for sure, Lord Stanley's cup is staying stateside buddy!!!
Instead of "Oh Canada" try "Oh can it huh?" Detroit in 6! Hockeytown USA!!
"I think the new 'cursed' team of the NHL will be the Sabres."
I think having the best team in the NHL is far from being cursed. You are a moron. Just because a great team loses in the playoffs doesn't make them cursed. If you want my honest opinion, I thought last year was the year for the Sabres because they had a decent regular season and turned up the heat in the playoffs. Nothing was stopping them, that is, until the injuries began to mount. The Sabres win or lose in this playoffs will still have an amazing team for years to come. They are the youngest team in the NHL and will keep just about all their players except a couple come next season. Maybe the Sens will have that kind of luck with drafting and trading as well but you can't say the Sabres are cursed. The no goal in 99' wasn't a curse, it was a major mess up by the NHL and Toronto and they admitted to it. What other league changes the rules the following year after screwing a team in its world championship game?
In order to win the series the Sabres must: 1) Insert Paetsche and bench Kalinin. Why keep him on the bench when you can insert a very capable defensemen who can also play forward if needed. He may be young but he can't do any worse than Kalinin. Also, Campbell played too many shifts which led to the second goal Wednesday night; 2) Insert Stafford over Zubrus if he is playing hurt becuase Stafford is a playmaker; 3)get more shots on Emery and good things will happen; 4) score at least 4 goals. That's a tall order but if accomplished they can extend this series and what else do they have to lose.
I think this loss will be a blessing in disguise for Ottawa. They needed this little wake me up to get them refocused after all the hysteria revolving around the sweep. Both the Sens and Sabres know that game was Ottawa's game for the taking. I suspect if it weren't for Heatley's penalty in the last couple of minutes they probably would have gotten the equalizer. Buffalo is a good team and yesterday's 9 second goal reminded Ottawa of that fact.
Sabres are a bunch of quitters (they're WORSE than losers). Especially in game 3. Who bring that effort in a Game 3 of the conference finals? They are an insult to their season and the fans that have supported them all year long. They refused to skate, hit...even in game 4! they WANTED to lose (all except miller). Just quit boys, go back to the golf course you quitters.
Sabres in 7.
"And can anyone confirm if Lindy Ruff played for the Olympic Miracle on Ice team?"
Probably not, seeing he's Canadian.
Wow, there are a lot of idiots posting on here. I'm not sure if any of these comments have merit, but it's fun to read Buffalo and Ottawa fans trash talk each other. I love reading all the commentary the day after the game.
I don't know how this series will turn out, but thank god Buffalo won a game and made it somewhat interesting. I think game 5 will be the best of the series, regardless of who wins.
Since no one has brought it up I think I'll chime in with perhaps the key point in this entire debate on who wins Game 5 or 6. So... A question for the die-hard Sabres fans: Aren't you at all concerned that Ruff rode your horses for more than 24min in that game (Drury, Connolly, Briere, Roy, Hecht, et. al)? Do you actually think they can turn another performance like that playing that many minutes? Drury was quoted as saying that his legs were dead at the end of that game. Relying on 5 forwards and 4 defence doesn't spell comeback. Could it not be possible that there's no more gas in the tank? When some of your best scorers are playing under 8min per game that should tell you something. If you wanna hang your hopes on Afinigenov playing 20min next game and actually playing defence (cause he'll be forced to), I'll be the first in line to take that bet.
Maybe its the public school system in "w"estern New York but despite what your parents have been telling you... you are not your own state.
In closing, always remember what a wise man once said: "Wide Right! Wide Right! He missed it... Wide Right!"
To correct an earlier comment, the Sabres are NOT the youngest team in the NHL..the San Jose Sharks are the youngest team. Ottawa didn't play their best game last night. If last night was the best the Sabres can muster, this series will be finished in 5. When Ottawa makes up their mind to assert themselves physically, the Sabres simply do not match up.
Way to insult Western New York you dirt bag. Come and stay sometime, ill show you some nice places like underneath the water of lake Erie. The Sabres have not played nearly as good as they can, i believe they play down to their opponents and sometimes toy with teams. With their backs to the wall now the Sabres will be playing do or die, and i hope you believe that this whole city is behind them. Our arena had 10,000 people in it to watch game 4 on the jumbo-tron. Ill be watching the Sabres burn the Sens in game 5, and be watching in game 6 when the Sens ghosts come back to haunt them. And we all know what would happen with a game 7 back in Buffalo.
Have I been watching the same series. If you can't see that Ottawa has been the better team than you need to open your eyes. I'll admit Buffalo was the better team last year but Ottawa has been better this year. For all the people that continue to rag on Emery I'll ask you one thing. If he's so bad why is Ottawa up 3-1 and about to win the series? If you lose to someone bad doesn't it make you worse? Go Sens Go!!
Ray Emery will crack. He is the weak link here... all the Sabres need to do is get to him, and trust me, he will crack. Sabres in 7.
Emery is horrible. He is in no way responsible for the Sens being up 3-1. How can you possible think that when the Sabres couldn't get a quality shot to save their lives through the first three games?
Emery is crap and anyone who disagrees is just trying to convince themselves that it's not the case.
Sabres fans - grow up. Ottawa fans - grow up. I'm not claiming either city to be an intellectual hot bed - but the commentery and name calling in here seems to provide evidence that neither city is.
Sens looked a little complacent last night. Sabres started (only barely) resembling a team starting to find its heart again.
Could Ottawa collapse and the Sabres pull it off? I guess, but it would be the most unexpected thing in the world. If it does or doesn't happen, I hope the people in here can find less-juvenile ways to make a point...
the reason why not many teams come back after being down 0-3 is because not many really good teams go down 0-3. i have news for you ottawa, buffalo is a scary team ridden with talent all over the board. we have the edge in the position that counts the most (goaltending). all the games have been close (even the first one was, though the score might not suggest it). so hopefully all you ottawa fans make the trip for game 5 . . . but not really. GO SABRES!!! WEEEE BEEEEELLLIIEEVVVEEEE!!!
Buffalo could win the series if they score 3 goals in the first period of the next three games.
If you discount the Game 3 abomination, the reason the Sabres are losing is they play one good period while Ottawa plays three good periods. I would assume Buffalo wins Game 5 especially if they insert a few of the Amerks into the lineup but then Ottawa wins at home. If Miller continues to play great and the Sens powerplay keeps laying an egg then it is off to Game 7.
A realistic buffalo fan knows this series is over but still keeps hoping for a miracle because they are a true fan. But this series is not as lopsided as everyone wants to believe! The record shows it is but anyone who has watched all the games knows otherwise even if they will not admit it (Ottawa fans, announcers, writers and even Senators’ players).
First let’s start with the 2 games Ottawa won buy 1 goal, both those could have went either way especially when both were won with good bounces going Ottawa’s way. Game 1 I have to admit was Ottawa’s game, but it was not as convincing of a win as the announcers, Ottawa fans or even the score leads you to believe.
Game 2, I have real heartburn with as it should have never made it to OT! Buffalo clearly had this game and the officials handed it to the Senator’s with the worst officiated game I have seen this year and quite possibly ever! Even the announcers were in awe of how bad this game was called in favor of Ottawa. This should have made the sires 1-1 then who knows what would have happened but at worst should be 2-2 not 3-1. Even that being said it was still only won with a good bounce for Ottawa in the 2nd OT! When a game goes that far it is whoever gets the break or bounce that will win. Had the Sabres had some luck in 1st OT and the puck that bounced off the crossbar goes in instead then again the series is close, refer to the second line this paragraph again.
For the post at 2:21 PM, May 17, 2007 by Anonymous Aren't you at all concerned that Ruff rode your horses for more than 24min in that game (Drury, Connolly, Briere, Roy, Hecht, et. al)? NO Ottawa’s top line has done it all playoff long! Do you actually think they can turn another performance like that playing that many minutes? YES, absolutely! A Better? Is will they come out and play a full game sometime this year? Let me answer my own? First I doubt it. Drury was quoted as saying that his legs were dead at the end of that game. First he said it about the power play Ottawa had and when you stay on the penalty kill for all 2 min anyone would have rubber legs. Again back to one break, good bounce and some sort of luck (you know every team needs some to win no mater what you think, it is true). Read my post and you know I will not take your bet.
In closing, always remember what a wise man once said: "Wide Right! Wide Right! He missed it... Wide Right!" First of that was football and second read my part on Luck, bounces and officiating never going in favor of a Buffalo team/fan, but we are still fans after all we have been through!
For the post on 3:42 AM, May 18, 2007 by ghost of Dan Snyder the reason the Sabres are losing is they play one good period while Ottawa plays three good periods. AGREE 100%, but doesn’t this scare you that they are and Ottawa is just squeaking out wins with 2 1 goal games and 2 good bounces? My? to you is Will Buffalo come out and play a full game? But let me answer my own? first NO!
For the 3:16 PM, May 17, 2007 by Anonymous For all the people that continue to rag on Emery I'll ask you one thing. If he's so bad why is Ottawa up 3-1 and about to win the series? first and foremost because of some good Ottawa defense in front of him, then some good Senator bounces, Good officiating in Ottawa’s favor (game 2 for sure), Buffalo not playing a full game, but mainly because Buffalo is waiting for the perfect setup so they do not shoot the puck and crash the net to take advantage of all the juicy rebounds he has given up so far.
As much as I would like to see a Buffalo comeback it is not going to happen, these teams are too close and Buffalo never has had any good luck, good bounces, good breaks or even good officiating in critical situations in any sport.
Last year it was what if Buffalo was healthy, this year I guess it will be another year of what if game 2 was officiated fairly! Anyway you look at it this team did not play all out in the playoffs. So even as bad officiated as game 2 was there is no way you can say it was officiating that cost them the series, but we will never know for sure will we!
Still waiting on a miracle, and still a Buffalo fan (not a bandwagon fan, no true Buffalo fan is after all they have been through!).
Go Sabres, Go Bills, and Go Buffalo no matter how much people give you hell !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Well, well, if it isn't exactly what happened last year, Ottawa lost 3 in a row and won the fourth one and then lost at home in 5, and its almost like looking into a mirror for the sabres, as they face themselves in the same situation. Ottawa will finish this off on saturday, they are going to come out with everything they have, this whole post season no team has looked hungrier for the cup other than the Otawa Senators and this is their year, but i won't take anything away from Buffalo I still think they are a very good team, and if there's anybody that can come back from 3-0, it's Buffalo, but instead of talking about how bad the Sabres are playing, people should be talking about how well the Senators are playing. Sens in 5, then the cup is ours!!Bring back the cup to Canada!!!
nice job with the fans beating up on a lady from
pretty much tells it all doesn't it about stuff...
I guess there are "things to do in Ottawa" and not in Buffalo....like beat up women when you lose a game....thank goodness for Buffalo having "nothing to do in the city"...much better than what is going on up north with the fans...